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Loper volleyball splits weekend slate in tough matches

The Loper Volleyball team celebrates together after scoring a point. (Photo by Jiyoon Kim)

The UNK volleyball team hosted two matches last weekend, losing the first 3-1 to NW Missouri State, but bouncing back and winning the second 3-0 against Missouri Western State. Following the weekend slate, UNK sits at 12-3 overall and 3-3 in conference play.

The Lopers started off the match against NW Missouri with a 25-16 first set victory; however, the tide began to change in the second and third sets.

The Bearcats opened the second set with a 10-2 lead. UNK made a run, but ultimately fell 25-22. The third set was a mirror image, with the Lopers falling to an early 10-3 deficit that led to a 25-17 outcome.

“We are plagued by little lapses of very low-end volleyball,” said UNK coach Rick Squiers. “It was a lot of good stuff and a lot of high-end volleyball, but those big stretches of rotations that you get stuck in, or you can’t get in system, those will be the difference in our league against teams like this.”

The Lopers fought hard in the fourth set, but with all the momentum on the Bearcats side, they fell 25-22.

“We dug a big hole and kind of let them breathe a little bit,” Squiers said. “When good teams get that opportunity, they make you pay for it.”

The defeat against the Bearcats marked the Lopers’ first losing streak in over five years. While it was a disappointing loss, UNK still had an opportunity to bounce back against Missouri Western on Saturday.

UNK strolled through the first set, winning 25-14. The second set proved to be more of a challenge, with 11 ties and four lead changes throughout.

“If they win set two then we’re out there battling for another hour-plus,” said Squiers. “If that one gets away, then it’s a whole different ball game.”

UNK overcame a 24-21 deficit, winning the set 26-24, on the back of an unlikely hero from the service line, Emersen Cyza. She finished the match with three service aces, all happening near the end of the second set.

“We used our last sub to get CeCe [Beahm] into the game,” Squiers said. “Emersen stepped back there and did what she did and the whole match turned around because of it.”

The third set went entirely in UNK’s favor, winning 25-8. While the Lopers did fall in the first match of the weekend, getting back on track Saturday was a major morale boost.

“It was huge for us,” Squiers said. “We’ve been fighting ourselves since Washburn beat us.”

With such a competitive conference, every game is a big one for the Lopers.

“When you get a chance to win one against another team that you might be battling with towards the end of the year for seeding, it’s a huge win,” Squiers said.

The Lopers traveled to Fort Hays State on Tuesday. They travel to Central Missouri on Friday.

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KEVIN BURD, Sports Edior
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